From Mypaper 5 October 2009:
In fact it is not something new. It has only become more dominant.
ONE in seven teachers has suffered abuse from pupils on the internet or via mobile phone, new figures reveal.
Scottish teachers have reported children writing sexually obscene comments about them on social networking sites, superimposing their faces onto pornography and posting videos of them on websites.
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), a teachers’ union, has accused the police of not taking such ‘cyber crimes’ seriously, and has called for offending children to be arrested.
Today I faced a situation I never handled before.
I happened to read a pupil’s blog about her daily rantings. Basically it is ‘dedicated’ to two anonymous classmates whom she deemed as bullies. I will not reveal the blog address but here are 2 excerpts:
“…since you have no true friends….And please, don’t insult people’s taste of books. We are not like you, who read all those sophisticated books and text and not even get the top in class for Composition…And you don’t have to act so arrogant and pround when ask about your percentage for the examinations.”
“Well, then, should I call you a rapist the next time you hit me hard for no rhyme or reason? And anyway, if I was the most hated girl in school, then explain how more then 80% of the school coghort either not know who I am or is my very good friend? You are not any good guy all right, get this clear!”
Here’s my advice to her tagboard.
Well, anonymous personal attacks on others online reflect badly on oneself as well.
She didn’t respond to the message. Instead another reader defended her with a series of messages. I shall quote most of them here:
“completely disagree. a blog is an outlet of expression. you should be allowed to post what you want.”
“with responsibility, yes. but look at the attacks. they are harmless and aren’t vulgar.”
“she did not superficially write abt her them by calling them names or making unreasonable comments.”
“in fact, she was just expressing the injustice she felt , and perhaps get their understanding.”
“if, in a blog, she is not given the basic right of expressing her feelings, then, there’s no point.”
“and by feelings i mean her emotions. cos this is an online diary.”
I did engaged in a small debate with this reader who happened to be an ex-pupil of my school in the tagboard and later on MSN.
It did not turn ugly anyway, as he held strongly to his opinions on freedom of expression in blogs. I did gave him a scenario of permanency in information online, but the pupil was not convinced.
I ended the conversation in quite an amicable fashion (at least i felt) by saying his views were thought provoking and I had learnt more about digital citizenship, from the perspective of a pupil 🙂
1. Pupils blog to express themselves. Unfortunately, most inspirations came from the negatives of their school lives. While we can encourage pupils to blog the positives, negatives are inevitable.
2. How to strike a balance between freedom of expression and responsible blogging?
3. What if Cyberbullying is a form of retaliation of real-life bullying? In other words, how can we advise pupils who made online personal attacks on real-life bullies?
4. Are rantings about classmates considered Cyberbullying? Even they have little or no ill intentions?
Any comments? Have I done anything right or wrong?
For some reasons, none of the pupils I know of blogs negative stuff about me.
Sometime ago I asked a pupil, “Have you read any school mate blogging bad things about me?”
The pupil replied wittily, “Nope. Nobody dares. Cos you are reading. LOL!”
Ironically, pupils especially girls, tend to make personal attacks on classmates in blogs, and they wanted everyone within their social network to read them (cyberbullying)! Once I reminded them not to do so, they immediately turned their blogs ‘private’. This typical trolling scenario continues ‘behind the scene’. A dangerous time bomb I must say.
1. How can I help these pupils? Netiquette education is the way?
2. Why are these pupils always the girls?
3. How can I get some true feedback of my teaching when no pupil dares to give?
Adapted from Remote Access by
Five solid rules I teach the kids in my class to be safe online:
1.) Don’t linger in places that may be high risk. While you may have the need occasionally to be in a chat room or in another space like that, just as you wouldn’t hang out in dark back alleys for long, don’t be in these spaces either.
2.) Work hard to protect your online identity. Protect the basics: your whole name, details about your family, your address, IM address, etc. These are the basics that are usually used to find you online. Work hard to keep the breadcrumbs to a minimum.
3.) IM is students’ main way of communicating online. Keep your accounts safe and your password protected. Make sure nobody is messing with your FaceBook, Myspace, bebo, etc., accounts. Be aware.
4.) Read the stuff that is out there. I often pass on articles, write blog posts on our class blog, discuss things in class and ask for their input and opinions about some of the terrible things that happen online. I don’t think by any stretch it is encouraging kids to do the same thing. It helps potential bullies to know that we are aware of some of the things that happen online and it lets potential victims be aware of some of the things that have happened.
5.) Know how your technology works. Know about your webcam, your audio software, your camera, know where your SD cards are and your cell phone. If students know this kind of stuff, they will again know when it has been messed with or when someone is trying to get them to turn it on at a time or in a place that is inappropriate.
Five basic rules. There are many more, but with these five as a staring point, kids will have a good chance of being safe online.
I think The Cyberwellness Framework.‘s rules are essential and universal. With that, perhaps it’s a good opportunity to update fellow edubloggers what Singapore has been doing to teach digital citizenship to students:
The Cyberwellness Framework guides schools in planning for a cyberwellness programme.
The Framework focuses on developing the child’s instinct to protect himself and empower him to take responsibility for his own well-being in cyberspace. Thus, this framework highlights two principles to guide pupils in their actions, describes a 3-step process to explore cyberwellness issues and encourages schools to partner parents in promoting cyberwellness among pupils.
I will be attending a Copyright for Educators seminar tomorrow afternoon. Hope I will be able to learn more. I am still not too sure when it comes to copyright laws.